Facebook releases Facebook Open Stream API, designed to let developers create new applications involving the social networking site's real-time information flow. Facebook has opened itself up increasingly to developers as it seeks to expand its user base, perhaps the first step toward a more overt monetization strategy.
Facebook April 27 confirmed that it was releasing Facebook Open Stream API,
allowing designers to create new applications and widgets that utilize the
continuous information "stream" that represents the heart of the
social networking site's recent and somewhat controversial upgrade.
"With the Facebook Open Stream API,
users will be able to use applications to read and interact with their
stream," Ray He, a spokesperson for Facebook, wrote on the Facebook
"As a Facebook developer you'll also be able to access the
posts you've published into the stream and display them in your application,
whether it's on a mobile device, Web site or desktop."
Even before the official announcement, speculation abounded that Facebook
was on the verge of opening the site's real-time data stream, which includes
users' video, photo and text updates, in what could be construed as an attempt
some of the thunder from Twitter,
which has managed to attract considerable
buzz about its real-time updating model.
"To enable developers to access the stream, we've built the Facebook
Open Stream API to include the emerging
Activity Streams standard," He wrote. "In addition to the activity
streams interface, the Open Stream API
includes robust new APIs called stream.get and stream.publish and new FQL
tables that enable you to directly access the stream."
With these tools, developers will be able to filter, remix and display the
stream to users in new configurations.
Throughout 2009, Facebook has made a concerted effort to open itself further
to developers, introducing new APIs for Facebook Platform in February that
allowed access to content and methods of sharing Facebook Status, Notes, Links
and Video. In addition, it launched a Comments Box social messaging widget in
order to more fully integrate Facebook
Connect into Web sites and blogs.
Also in February 2009, Facebook
wrestled with enormous user backlash over its attempt to change the Terms of
so that the social networking site would retain control over user
information even after a user terminated his or her account. Facebook later
retreated from the position.
Twitter and Facebook have generated a considerable amount of interest as
millions of people join their networks. Although enterprises have found uses
for both sites, with companies such as Salesforce.com
blending them into their existing product lines and offerings, there remains
debate as to whether
social networking will remain useful and relevant to businesses in the long
The other question is monetization. Facebook runs ads on its site, but with
the money already invested in the service speculated to run in the tens of
millions, there may be greater internal pressure from the site's investors to
find a way to turn its 200 million members into a revenue-generating machine.
For its own part, Twitter has already been exploring ways to monetize. In
addition to sponsored sites such as ExecTweets, Twitter
plans on rolling out sponsored accounts later in 2009.